We updated this article in August 2022 to ensure all picks tested and vetted by the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab were available, in stock and correctly priced.
Your latest dye job doesn't simply end once you leave the salon — using a top-rated shampoo that's intended for color-treated hair is key to keeping your shade fresh and vibrant, whether it's brunette, black, blonde, red or an even bolder hue (hello, purple and rose gold!). Shampoos of any kind are designed to clean away oil and dirt, and color-protecting formulas use the same basic cleansing ingredients, but also aim to minimize the amount of dye that washes down the drain each time you wash. Not only do color-safe shampoos work to preserve your dye job, but they also help mask any damage by making strands feel softer and smoother, too.
This Tresemmé shampoo and its matching conditioner helped retain color the best in the GH Beauty Lab's most recent test — and the pair was also the consumer tester favorite. Hair samples showed the least color change after 20 washes and 10 hours of UV exposure in Lab evaluations. Plus, this color-safe drugstore duo was the most affordable option we tested. “The formulas felt creamy and rich like expensive salon-quality products,” said one tester.
Hair Food's sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner for colored hair proved the best at conditioning hair in the GH Beauty Lab's test, making this pair ideal for dry, damaged thick or textured hair. They also earned a perfect score for being non-irritating. “Dyeing my hair left it very dry, and I loved how moisturized it felt after just one use,” a tester reported.
This reasonably-priced protein-infused shampoo and its conditioner counterpart from Nexxus win the praises of color pros thanks to their ability to remove product buildup without stripping color. "It prevents fading on any color-treated hair and maintains hair health," says New York City colorist Patrick Kyle.
A GH Beauty Lab go-to, this bargain-price sulfate-free L'Oréal Paris formula is made to both preserve color and soften strands. In a consumer study, the majority of women confirmed who used the shampoo and matching conditioner found that it helped hair color stay "pure" after four weeks of use, Lab data evaluation found.
This shampoo formula from OGX and its matching conditioner were top performers in the GH Beauty Lab's test of shampoos for colored hair, and are great for preserving the richness and boosting the glossiness of brunette shades. The pair earned high marks for conditioning and color retention, and testers said the duo left hair shiny. "I loved the scent of both shampoo and conditioner,” one tester said. “The shampoo lathered very easily and seemed to make my color last longer.”
From the gold standard anti-dandruff brand, this Head & Shoulders shampoo and conditioner created for color-treated hair both contain the flake-fighting active ingredient pyrithione zinc. "Not only is dandruff is at bay, my hair is shiny, smooth and smells wonderful!" reports one reviewer.
Master hairstylist Daniel Reboh raves that this Minerals of Eden shampoo and conditioner are his "absolute favorite" for colored hair: They were created to also purify and boost volume, great for fine strands. The formulas are "enriched with minerals from the Dead Sea,as well as ginseng," he says. "The shampoo removes the buildup of daily pollution without removing color, leaving the hair silky, shiny and moisturized."
To keep hair color from fading, Meri Kate O'Connor, a colorist at Cooper Salon in West Hollywood, CA, turns to this pair from Goldwell, from a collection specially tailored to smooth strands. If you want to make coarse or textured hair silky, she says the shampoo and conditioner are infused with keratinto add extra smoothness and shine.
If you're on the search for shampoo for colored hair, this shampoo from Matrix is a favorite of stylist Rachel Bodt. "I recommend Matrix Unbreak My Blonde collection to all my clients who have gotten any sort of chemical lightening service, not just blondes! Unbreak My Blonde is a 3-part, shampoo, conditioning, and leave-in treatment, meant to revive hair damaged by chemical lightening – leaving hair soft and shiny."According to the brand, this conditioning sulfate-free shampoo cleanses the hair and strengthens bonds with each use.
For a luxe sulfate-free option that increases vibrancy, check out Shu Uemura's color-protecting shampoo and conditioner, recommended by O'Connor. "These have refining lipids in that help to protect the cortex of the hair, where the color goes, so your shade lasts longer — and hair is left shiny and soft," she explains.
From a brand created specifically for color care, this Pureology shampoo and its conditioner formulations contain proteins and botanical oils to fortify and nourish dry, damaged strands. "I couldn't believe how soft and lush my hair felt after using these, even right after it was bleached," GH's beauty director April Franzino marveled.
Get salon-like washes thanks to this luxury shampoo formula. Coupled with its conditioner, this shampoo's scent, lather and rinse impressed our panel of testers. In fact, the combo earned the highest score for enriching hair color after washes. "My color really is more vibrant after I washed and conditioned," says one tester. "I know my color is holding. It feels healthier than with other products I have used." In addition to the shine and color enhancement, our testers noticed soft-to-the-touch results and longer-lasting volume.
8.5 fl. oz
What to look for in a shampoo for colored hair
✔️ Always look for a "color-safe" formula. When you use products not intended for color-treated hair, they can strip the color and ruin its integrity, according to celebrity colorist and Matrix brand ambassador Rachel Bodt.
✔️ Opt for strengthening ingredients. Look for ingredients like citric acid, which strengthens bonds weakened from the hair-lightening process. Bodt recommends Matrix Unbreak My Blonde collection for its ability to revive damaged hair.
✔️ Look for "sulfate-free" formulas. Sulfates sud the hair and cause pigment loss, says Bodt.When you have heavily bleached hair you will want to incorporate something that has bonding treatment or protein and moisture.
How we test color-safe shampoos
The Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab tests shampoos for colored hair alongside each brand's matching conditioners, putting the pairs through a number of rigorous evaluations to see how well they perform. In our most recent test, Lab scientists prescreened over 160 shampoo and conditioner duos, narrowing them down to the ten top formulas. In the Lab, our chemists performed repeated fade-resistance testing on human hair swatches to mimic real-world conditions, including shampooing, conditioning, blow-drying and repeated exposure to UV light. They also distributed the label-masked shampoos and conditioners to consumer testers around the country, who used the products for two weeks, then evaluated the product's attributes and the look of their color and feel of their hair after use.
Why trust Good Housekeeping?
Jacqueline Saguin works in the Good Housekeeping Institute as the Associate Editor of Products and Reviews, covering all things beauty and beyond. Before GH, she worked on Insider's style and beauty reviews vertical, where she evaluated skincare, makeup, haircare and more. With a journalism degree from the University of Florida, she flexes her research, interviewing and reporting skills by working closely with the experts in the GH Institute Beauty Lab to put together product reviews on the very best haircare out there, according to consumer and Lab testing.
For this article, she also worked with Good Housekeeping's Beauty Director, April Franzino, who has over a decade of experience translating the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab's rigorous product testing into compelling, factually accurate editorial.